Food Blog Star Challenge #2 … An Arabic Twist on The Healthy Apple

First off, I want to thank each and every one of you for voting for me in the first round of ‘The Next Food Blog Star’ as I am thrilled to have been selected to compete in Challenge #2: Choose an ethnic classic that you are not familiar with…

VOTE FOR ME HERE by giving me a RED HEART

(You’ll have to create a log in/sign up for Foodbuzz to give me a RED HEART Vote)

…as I enter Challenge #2 …with my delicious Arabic creation below, vote for me to inch one step closer to being the Next Food Blog Star!

Well, here she is folks…I decided to create an Arabic dessert.  Why? Well, over the weekend I was pondering what ethnic foods I don’t tap into often…and while contemplating Greek, Asian, Indian and so forth…another thought crossed my mind…it brought me back to my college days…many, many years ago (hehe)…when I would sit in Harvard Square with my girlfriend, Suey at a Turkish coffee house…it was fabulous…so relaxing, so tranquil…just a place where we went to feel at home and escape the college campus…a place where we could sit and sip on Turkish coffee (which is amazing…and if you haven’t tried it…you should – I of course, sippity sip the decaff)…read our books and snuggle in the cozy cafe on those frigid Boston afternoons…

This adorable cafe had the most incredible desserts and I loved seeing all the beautiful treats lined up each day…fresh n’ smellin’ just divine…yum…It feels as though it was just yesterday that I was sippin’ on Arabic coffee in Harvard Square with my studies…  But, it wasn’t … it was many years ago… but a gal can dream and drift back to those fond college days, can’s she?  A gal sure can try to whip up a semi-fabulous resemblance of those treats in her lil pin sized Manhattan apartment, can’t she? O yes she can… And I did…

I started off in my ‘Challenge #2’ journey on the streets of Manhattan…the tiny, little ethic shops that pack a million and one ingredients, foods and beverages into a pint sized bodega … memorizing, isn’t it? Well, I went ahead and spent my paycheck on the ethnic Arabic goodies, why not, right?  I knew it would be an adventure once I unleashed the goodies in my kitchen.

Why Arabic? Well, a few months ago when I created the spa menu for Donald Trump’s new Trump SOHO Hotel, the theme was ‘Arabic’ and ‘Turkish’ cuisine and treats…so I had done my fair share of research and taste testing of ingredients…a little of this, a little of that…but I had never included a lil’ Healthy Apple spin until this Challenge…

I leave you with…my latest creation…one that is surely outside of my ‘usual’ comfort zone, but yet still Vegan, Vegetarian, Gluten Free, Soy Free and Dairy Free, hehe…so all of you can enjoy this tasty Arabic dessert…or mid afternoon nibble, whichever way you’d like to phrase it…(or eat it)…

And so, here she is … my Arabaic Challenge, to say the least…

Now, why was this really a Challenge for me? Well, as I do with all of my other recipes, I simply created this from experimenting in my lil kitchen…having too much fun on a Saturday night with Arabic ingredients can leave you quite inspired and perplexed…so, what did I create? What challenged me? This baby right here…which took me about eight attempts to perfect…It came at attempt number nine right before the clock struck midnight…my lil’ hands were tired, my electric mixer was burnin’ up and I was surely runnin’ out of expensive ingredients…so, I was delighted when number nine was the winner and I loved it…actually, I’m still lovin’ it as I stored the ‘leftovers’ in my fridge for my evening desserts this week…5 lil ramekins for 5 fabulous nights of dessert…now, who wants to come on over to join me?


Pecan n’ Pistachio Date Pudding

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cup almond milk
  • 1 3/4 Tbsp. stevia
  • 1 1/2 cup dates
  • 5 large bananas
  • 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1/4 cup pecans
  • 1/4 cup pistachios
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, very finely chopped

Directions

  1. Lay the dates on a flat surface.  Gently remove pits and slice thin.  Set aside.
  2. Peel the bananas, slice each banana in half, then slice each half into thin slices approximately 1/4 inch thick.
  3. In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine almond milk and stevia with an electric mixer until stiff peaks are formed.
  4. Slowly add bananas, dates, cumin and cinnamon to the almond milk mixture.  Mix well until combined.
  5. Meanwhile, in a food processor, combine pecans and pistachios; process until smooth.
  6. Spoon pecan mixture atop banana mixture; place into the refrigerator for 1 hour or until ready to serve.
  7. Serve chilled with a sprinkle of mint shavings.
  8. Enjoy!

Thank you again for all of your support with The Next Food Blog Star! I greatly appreciate all of your support and I thank each of you from the bottom of my heart for believing in me and The Healthy Apple…

I hope you enjoy this tasty, ‘Healthy Aple’ spin on my ethnic dish…but not to worry, it can be enjoyed by all as it’s free of gluten, dairy and soy…not to mention both vegetarian and vegan…

So, go ahead…what are you waiting for? Bring back those Arabic dreams of the Disney movie, Aladdin and take yourself on my carpet ride…

I’d love to hear your thoughts…Any takers?

Have you ever tried to create an Arabic dessert? If so, I’d love to hear about it.

VEGA Vegan Protein Patties and Marx Foods GIVEAWAY

As you all know, I’m a proud VEGA Ambassador and I recently created a tasty recipe and video demo for the VEGA website sharing my vegan protein patties.

Be sure to take a look at my Vega Ambassador Interview, Recipe and Video.



Ingredients

  • 1 packet VEGA Sport
  • ¼ cup steel-cut oats, cooked
  • 1 cup black beans, cooked
  • 2 Tbsp. nut butter
  • ¼ cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 Tbsp. raisins
  • 1 tsp. white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 medium ripe banana, sliced
  • Pinch of each sea salt and pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. agave nectar
  • ¼ tsp. smoked paprika
  • 10 walnuts

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.
  2. In a food processor, combine all ingredients; process until smooth.
  3. Using a tablespoon, drop the batter into your hands; mold into patties and place onto the prepared baking sheet.
  4. Bake for 20 minutes or until lightly golden brown and crispy.
  5. Enjoy!

And Now…I am happy to announce my Marx Foods Palm Leaf Plate Giveaway.

I recently had the opportunity to test out these Palm Leaf Plates, which are incredible and great for entertaining. I was quite impressed at how well these plates held up as I was a bit skeptical since they’re disposable, but to my surprise they held up like a charm.  These beautiful pates are an eco-friendly and biodegradable plates are a unique alternative to conventional plates.  The plates and the disposable cutlery are even compostable!

To Enter:

1). View the Marx foods website and tell me what Palm Leaf plate shape you’d like to try.
2). Post this giveaway on your blog. Leave a comment telling me you did.
3). Tweet this Giveaway post! Leave me a third comment telling me you did.

Each comment counts as an entry.

Good Luck; I will be picking a winner on Friday, September the 10th at 5PM EST.


Justin’s Nut Butter Giveaway and Dairy Free Chocolate Mousse

Let’s just say I’m over-the-top about my buddy Justin and his fabulous nut butters…I recently had the pleasure to meet Justin (twice,hehe) last month and tasted all of his incredible nut butters… Not only is Justin an amazing guy and a REAL Person, but his nut butters are out-of-this world.  Seriously, have you ever tried Chocolate Hazelnut Butter? Honey Almond Butter? Maple Almond Butter? Honey Peanut Butter? I didn’t think so…

Sick and tired of your regular ol’ peanut butter and jelly sammie, well go ahead and take my word for it, you can jazz up your sandwich, wraps, crackers, veggies, fruits, ice cream, anything with Justin’s Nut Butters…and the best part? These tasty creations are sold in handy dandy to-go squeezable and portable packets for easy traveling and munching on-the-go.

So, I decided to whip up a tasty dessert last night and use some of my Justin’s Chocolate Hazelnut Butter…yummm….how about a little Chocolate Hazelnut Mousse to take the heat off this summer?   I hope you enjoy my newest indulgence…it’s guilt-free and exceptionally tasty…

Dairy-Free Chocolate Mousse

Ingredients

  • 1 ripe avocado, pitted and peeled
  • 4 Tbsp. Justin’s Chocolate Hazelnut Butter
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1/3 cup agave nectar
  • 1/3 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons almond extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 4 fresh basil leaves
  • Toppings: Lime Zest and Ground Flax Seeds

Directions

  1. In a food processor or blender, combine all ingredients; process until it forms a creamy consistency.
  2. Scoop into serving bowls and garnish with ground flax seeds and lime zest.
  3. Enjoy!

I created this delicious mousse last night…enjoyed a cup (or two, hehe) and then stored the remainder in my freezer for a frozen treat anytime!

And now…for my Justin’s Nut Butter Giveaway

I’m happy to announce that a few lucky readers will win a Justin’s Nut Butter package filled with his tasty nut butters.

To Enter My Justin’s Nut Butter Giveaway:

1). View the Justin’s Nut Butter website and tell me what nut butter you’d like to try.
2). Post this giveaway on your blog. Leave a comment telling me you did.
3). Tweet this Giveaway post! Leave me a third comment telling me you did.

Each comment counts as an entry.

Good Luck; I will be picking a winner on Thursday, August 12th at 5PM EST.

Have you every tried Justin’s Nut Butters? If so, which flavors and what did you think? Were you hooked like I am?

A Guilt-Less Summer Treat

It’s a simple homemade banana frozen ‘yogurt’ treat that’s a snap to make, inexpensive, dairy-free and gluten-free!  Banana’s are easy to purchase, soft and easy to chew and they’re packed with nutrients.  Banana’s are naturally sweet and contain vitamins C and A, magnesium and folate.  Moreover, they help reduce stress levels and increase serotonin levels.

One banana provides 422 mg of the 4,700 mg per day of potassium that the Institute of Medicine recommends for adults.  Yum, dig into this frozen banana ‘fro-yo’ for a tasty and refreshing Summertime Guilt-less Treat!

Ingredients

  • 1 large frozen banana, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 10 raw almonds, chopped
  • 1 tsp. raw cacao bliss
  • 2 Fresh mint leaves
  • 1 tsp. lime juice
  • Pinch of stevia
  • Topping: Cinnamon

Directions

  1. Place all ingredients into a food processor; blend until smooth and fluffy (ice-cream consistency).
  2. Serve chilled; top with a sprinkle of cinnamon.
  3. Enjoy!

Mini-Larabar Giveaway

Larabars are one of my favorite bars because of the simplicity of the ingredients:

Pure fruits, nuts and spices!


Now, that’s hard to beat.

The best part? Each bar is gluten, dairy and soy free, non-GMO, vegan and kosher! Wow…

Larabar is a delicious blend of unsweetened fruits, nuts and spices – energy in its purest form. Made from 100% whole food, each flavor contains no more than eight ingredients. Pure and simple, just as nature intended.

GLUTEN FREE * DAIRY FREE * SOY FREE * NON-GMO * VEGAN * KOSHER


Sweet with no added sweeteners. Sustaining with no added fillers, supplements or flavorings. Larabar is what your body needs – real, whole food loaded with nature’s own minerals and vitamins.


All of the vitamins, minerals, fiber, protein, good carbohydrates and healthy fats are derived exclusively from the whole food used to make Larabar.

Larabar sources the best possible ingredients. Every time. Every bar. Enjoy.

Larabar firmly believes that the foundation of a sound mind, body and spirit is derived from what you eat. And what you eat is healthiest and most satisfying when it’s in a whole, natural state.


You can expect an unmistakable urge to humm after every Larabar bar you eat.

Let the humming begin!


For your chance to win Mini-Larabars, visit the Larabar website and leave me a comment on this post telling me what flavor you’d like to try.  I will pick a winner on Friday, March 5th at 12:00 noon EST.

Good Luck!

Homemade Morning Facial Scrub

Yesterday being my fabulous birthday, I decided to create a homemade facial scrub to ‘re-live my youth’ in hope of an instant facial glow.  I simply combined a few ingredients  from my pantry and whipped up an incredible scrub that left my face beaming all day.  I suggest using a ripened banana and ripened avocado as the riper the better for this scrub.

So, what are you waiting for? Go ahead and pamper yourself this weekend with this homemade recipe that will surely ignite a rosy complexion.

Ingredients

  • 10 almonds, finely chopped
  • 1 ripened banana, mashed
  • 10 blueberries, mashed
  • 1/3 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 ripe avocado, mashed
  • 3 Tbsp. ground chia seeds

Directions

  • Combine all  ingredients; mix well.
  • Apply scrub to face; rinse with lukewarm water.
  • Enjoy a fresh-faced beautiful glow!

In The News This Week…

Vinegar and Carb Digestion

Westborn Market Gluten-Free Shopping Guide

Olive Oil to Replace Trans-Fats in Bakery

Ignore Expiration Dates

Brown Rice Healthier Than White Rice

Get Those Kids Cookin’…

Ever wonder how to get your kids involved in the kitchen? Here are a few tips that I offer to my clients…whether you have young children, nieces, nephews, neighbors, family or friends…these tips are sure to get your little ones active and entertained in the kitchen.


  • Cucumber Caterpillar: Slices of cucumber held together with natural peanut butter. Place the Caterpillar on ‘greens’ to look like grass.
  • Taco or Burrito Bar: Serve brown rice, black beans, onions, hot peppers, sprouted grain or gluten free tortillas, broccoli, arugula, cauliflower, guacamole and  salsa.  Add nuts, seeds and spices in tiny serving dishes to jazz up the flavors!
  • Salad Bar: Spin your greens in a salad spinner, then dress dry greens with a lime dressings made by combining sesame oil, fresh lime juice, low-sodium tamari, cayenne pepper, agave nectar, balsamic vinegar and water.
  • Mashed Potato Parfaits- Sweet Potatoes, Parsnips and carrots mixed together…topped with raisins, cinnamon, shredded coconut and agave nectar
  • Individual Pizzas: Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.  Choose gluten free or sprouted whole grain tortillas, caramelized onions, spinach, red onion, mushrooms, kalamata olives, artichokes, fresh basil, olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  Add each ingredient atop each tortilla and bake for 20 minutes.
  • Panini Party: Gluten Free or sprouted whole grain bread, SoyaKaas Gluten Free/Dairy Free cheese, tomato slices, eggplant slices, fresh basil leaves, balsamic vinegar, avocado, zucchini and squash slices.  Add all ingredients to 2 slices of bread.  Place onto a panini maker (sprayed with cooking spray); cook until cheese is melted and veggies are warm and cooked.  Dip into marinara (red) sauce.
  • Stir-Fry: Switch up your usual recipe with unique grains such as millet, quinoa or buckwheat.
  • Fruit Salad: Add exotic fruits to spice up the flavors.  Use a melon baller and serve in a wine glass to add to the allure of this meal.  Add a dollop of plain Greek yogurt atop each fruit salad serving and sprinkle with cinnamon and stevia.
  • Slaw Wraps: Cabbage, celery, carrots, bok choy, mushrooms, peppers, snap peas, bean sprouts, snow peas, green beans and Napa Slaw can easily be combined and wrapped in rice paper.  Liven up this dish by pairing it with a special sauce of grapefruit juice, ginger, balsamic vinegar, lemonade and seeds such as pumpkin and sunflower.  Toss with fresh apples or cumin roasted chick peas.  Adding berries such as blackberries, raspberries and cherries add a nice antioxidant punch to these wraps.
  • Peanut Butter Chicken Fajitas: The best way to make a good peanut sauce is by combining organic peanut butter, fresh ginger, cayenne pepper, agave nectar and low-sodium tamari/soy sauce.
  • Frozen Basil and Banana Pops: Blend together 2 cups ice, 2 cups fresh basil leaves, 1 ripe banana, 1 cup fresh mint leaves, 1 1/2 cups water, 1/2 cup agave nectar in a blender.  Blend well and pour into glasses! This is a wonderful treat for a healthy dessert!

Have fun and experiment with some of my ideas above…Getting the kids active in the kitchen is fun…and who knows, your kids may just start to ‘enjoy’ their veggies!!!